As we are in the month of love, I want to talk about all different types of intimate relationships. There are couples, “throuples”, “situationships”, partners and open relationships becoming popular in culture. All of them require a certain level of attention to detail and arrangements of agreements, but I want to give a little insight on things to consider when agreeing to an open relationship.
Have clear communication around agreements.
I have seen many open relationships happen completely out of comfortability. A famous song quote basically puts this in perspective: “A piece of a man is better than no man at all”. I am not here to argue for or against that. However, I do want to make sure that we aren’t easing to an open relationship just to stay connected to a person you care about. It is important to have honest communication around the agreements in the open relationship. Things like considering when, who, and how one goes about having a sexual or otherwise intimate experience. Being clear around those parameters are extremely important.
Discuss how this will be handled publicly.
Many times, people attempt to be as discreet as possible around their intimate relationships. Unfortunately, there is hardly ever a time in which it stays between those in the relationship. Whether the agreement is to only have these experiences out of town or if it is a certain person of interest that it happens with frequently, people always seem to find out. It is important to deal with that upfront before the situation even arises to avoid any misunderstandings or miscommunication.
Be aware of emotional risk.
You may be thinking “this is open, just fun, and a low chance of emotional hurt occurring”. As a counselor, I’ve seen many people that are traumatized by the decisions made in relationships. Whether entering a closed relationship or open, there is always a chance of being hurt. This can go back to having clear communication around agreements, boundaries and expectations.
If you’re thinking of entering an open relationship or if you’re already in one, remember these considerations. As always, counseling is a safe space to talk about the best and the worst that can happen in your life. No matter what type of relationship you may enter, counseling can provide support and help you to identify what is important to you in relationships.